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CK drops state final to St. Anthony’s after winning city crown

By Joseph Staszewski

Winning its first city championship took something out of Christ the King heading into the state title game.

The Royals stayed right with perennial power St. Anthony’s for the first half, but the Friars’ depth and the fatigue of an shootout victory over Notre Dame Academy the night before caught up to CK after the break. A one-goal game turned into a 4-1 defeat to host St. Anthony’s on Nov. 14.

“We were just dying from the day before,” senior midfielder Medina Mulic said. “It was a lot to take in.”

The Royals led 1-0 when Kiana Leger scored on a penalty kick in the 5th minute. Despite the best effort of keeper Kimberly Moreira, Christ the King couldn’t hold on to the lead heading into the break.

St. Anthony’s scored twice in an 8:00 span and took a 2-1 lead in the 32nd minute. The Friars found the back of the net again in the 48th minute to break the game open. It left Christ the King (10-3-3), which lost 6-0 to St. Anthony’s last season, leaving the game knowing that the gap between the two teams is closing.

“I felt like this year we competed with them.” CK coach John Fayad said.

Christ the King earned the right to play for the state crown for a second straight year by beating rival Notre Dame Academy in a shootout to win its first CHSAA city crown, in the state semifinals. In that game, the Gators jumped out to a 2-0 lead by the 24th minute, but that didn’t stop CK.

Leger netted a penalty kick in the 29th minute and the Royals took advantage of a Gators miscue in the 46th minute. Senior Andrea Cardozo intercepted a goal kick and scored from just outside the box to make it 2-2.

“Andrea has always had the best shots from the top of the box and she got a chance and she didn’t miss,” Fayad said.

It stayed that way after two overtimes and Moreira, who made 13 saves in the semifinal, had two stops during the shootout. Mulic, Diana Paravatos, Leger and Cardozo each scored for the Royals for a 4-2 victory in penalty kicks.

Fayad said his club was practicing penalty kicks for about two weeks leading up to the game. It was the first time Christ the King had a playoff game go to penalty kicks during its five-year reign as Brooklyn/Queens champions.

“We were happy we could continue our season one more game and we proved we are the better team at the end of the day,” Mulic said.

She and the Royals have proven that many times over her four varsity seasons, along with the help of her fellow seniors like striker Sarah Nolan. CK won a diocesan title the year prior to their arrival, but they pushed the program to greater heights and to a consistent position as one of the best teams in New York City. And this season, it fell just one game short of being the best Catholic-school squad in the state.

“These four years we have been trying to take it all the way,” Mulic said. “We thought this would be the year.”

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